Blackpool in the Premier League 10 years on: Seasiders complete dream double over Liverpool

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It’s 10 years since Blackpool graced the top flight and we’re retelling the story week-by-week of that sensational season in the big time.

On this day a decade ago, Ian Holloway’s players did the double over Liverpool, as STEVE CANAVAN witnessed a 2-1 win at Bloomfield Road...

Roy Hodgson might not appreciate the irony of this – Kenny Dalglish even less so – but he was born just after the end of the 1946-47 football season, the last time Blackpool completed the double over Liverpool.

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Back then bananas were rationed, Queen Elizabeth wasn’t Queen, and a bikini was worn for the first time.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher scores Blackpool's equaliser in their win against LiverpoolGary Taylor-Fletcher scores Blackpool's equaliser in their win against Liverpool
Gary Taylor-Fletcher scores Blackpool's equaliser in their win against Liverpool

The bikini was designed by a French car engineer, Louis Reard, who obviously had an eye for the ladies and an unhealthy imagination.

He named his new swimsuit after Bikini Atoll, an island in the South Pacific where testing on the new atomic bomb was going on.

Why? Because Reard believed its revealing style would create reactions among people similar to those created by America’s atomic bomb in Japan the previous summer. Slightly tasteless perhaps, but understandable.

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Quite a coincidence, for around the Fylde coast, the reaction to the Seasiders’ magnificent double over mighty Liverpool will also cause major waves.

Just dwell on this for a moment. Blackpool beat Liverpool 3-2 at Bloomfield Road in November 1946, then won at Anfield by the same scoreline later in the season.

The clubs have met on 41 further occasions but never again had the Seasiders been able to do the double.

It sums up this quite astonishing season and makes one wonder if it can really get any better. Actually, that’s an easy one to answer. Of course it can. Pool can stay up.

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With this victory, that prospect is getting tantalisingly nearer. Forty points, surely 42 tops, would be enough to guarantee top-flight football again next season. Which means that another four wins should be enough. Five definitely would be.

I don’t know about you, but with 18 games remaining, I’d certainly back Ian Holloway and his players to do it.

It also completely justified the manager’s slightly controversial decision to rest all his top players at Southampton in the FA Cup.

While Charlie Adam and co were putting their feet up and watching Jeremy Kyle, Liverpool’s best 11 were running around at Old Trafford tiring themselves out. Steven Gerrard got a red card which ruled him out for three games.

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A weekend off wasn’t the sole reason for the victory, for that would be to understate the performance of the team last night.

Dalglish made six changes from the side Hodgson picked for the Reds’ last league match, Holloway made just one change from Pool’s last league outing – Elliot Grandin for Matt Phillips – but 10 from the weekend’s FA Cup encounter at Southampton.

You could tell it was Dalglish’s first match in charge, for as he walked out of the tunnel, there were more photographers waiting for him than the Seasiders used to get supporters five years ago.

The snappers didn’t have to wait long for a shot of Dalglish jumping for joy, for three minutes and 23 seconds after the contest began, Liverpool were ahead.

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The goal represented rank bad marking on the Seasiders’ part. Martin Kelly’s simple pass behind Neal Eardley allowed Fernando Torres bags of space to break into the right side of the penalty area and he unleashed a ferocious rising drive past Richard Kingson.

Brilliant finish from a tight angle, but as far as the Tangerines were concerned, as bad starts go, this was up with the best.

Ian Evatt tried to get across to cover but he was left with two players to mark and so didn’t know whether to stick or twist until it was too late. How Pool were caught so short, so early, is a mystery.

In the directors’ box, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Joe Cole broke off from sharing a bag of salt and vinegar Chipsticks to join in the celebrations.

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Just when it seemed a bad night was on the cards, the Seasiders levelled with their first real attack.

Moments after losing the ball, David Vaughan was given it back by a shocking Liverpool pass, and he played in Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

The Seasiders’ frontman somehow wriggled his way past Daniel Agger’s slack defending and calmly sidefooted past Pepe Reina. A wonderful and slightly ironic moment for Taylor-Fletcher, a lifelong Liverpool fan.

DJ Campbell almost put Holloway’s men ahead on 16 minutes, but after Liverpool failed to deal with Eardley’s cross, he put his header narrowly wide from six yards.

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Charlie Adam, pulling the strings in the middle and clearly enjoying himself, didn’t quite catch a shot from the edge of the area and Reina made a comfortable save. That was about it in terms of chances.

Don’t get the impression it was dull though, for it wasn’t. There was plenty of good passing on show, with both teams playing good football.

Torres did some delightful things – one backheeled pass in front of the West Stand was stunning – while Evatt and Cathcart defended resolutely, and Vaughan did well in midfield.

Adam charged forward 10 minutes into the second half and warmed Reina’s hands with a thumping, angled drive.

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Moments later, Reina was in employment again, showing why he is one of the world’s best keepers by tipping Vaughan’s effort over the bar.

Torres blasted a volley over at the other end, just to remind Pool not to get cocky, Kingson saved from Torres and Raul Meireles, who caught the eye in the Liverpool midfield, shot narrowly wide.

Phillips replaced Grandin but it didn’t stop Liverpool pushing forward, Dirk Kuyt the next to go close, Kingson palming away the Dutchman’s curling effort.

Phillips did get in on the action quickly though, teed up by Vaughan on the edge of the area, but his shot was deflected wide. No matter.

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On 69 minutes, a moment to send Bloomfield Road wild. Eardley swung a cross into the area, Evatt powerfully headed the ball back towards the six-yard box, and Campbell was on hand to nod past Reina.

Campbell made Reina work again, having his shot from a tight angle blocked. A pass might have been the better option.

Then Adam tried his party piece, chipping Reina from the halfway line, but his effort drifted wide.

Frustration grew for Liverpool in the 80th minute when they appealed for a handball inside the area by Cathcart, but he had been pushed.

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It should have been Liverpool pushing forward in their droves, looking for an equaliser, but it was Holloway’s men who played much the better football towards the end, and not once did they look in trouble. The fans loved every minute. Dalglish didn’t.

Then again, I suspect no one in tangerine really cares. What a night.

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